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Smart specialisation strategies in south Europe during crisis

Nicos Komninos (URENIO Research, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Bernard Musyck (Frederick University, Nicosia, Cyprus)
Alasdair Iain Reid (Technopolis Group, Brussels, Belgium)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to assess how national and regional authorities in south-east Europe in a period of crisis perceive and set in motion research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) and the options that these strategies offer to overcome the current fiscal and development crisis.


The paper starts with a literature review on the guiding principles of smart specialisation strategies and the differences from previous rounds of regional innovation strategies. Evidence on smart specialisation efforts is provided by cases studies in Greece, Slovenia, and Cyprus, focusing on the elaboration of such strategies in three countries with precarious innovation systems under severe conditions of crisis. The case studies are organised around key aspects of the smart specialisation logic, such as the selection of specialisation priorities, bottom-up governance, private sector leadership, and engines of innovation and competitiveness.


The paper explores the obstacles encountered in running effective RIS strategies under crisis conditions. The paper highlights the main challenges to address, such as the readiness and credibility of public authorities to design and implement sound RIS3 strategies, the willingness of companies to be involved in strategic planning, the availability of private investment funds, innovation and diversification during a crisis, and the drivers of specialisation that could lead to competitiveness and growth. In the conclusions the paper identifies three routes towards smarter productive diversification and five critical stages in the entrepreneurial discovery process.


The paper has both practical and theoretical significance. It focuses on the main challenges of smart specialisation and offers guidance in the elaboration of RIS3 in peripheral EU economies. On the other hand, it proposes a model for the entrepreneurial discovery process, based on the assessment of areas and futures of productivity and added-value increase, as productive diversification and crisis exit route.



Komninos, N., Musyck, B. and Iain Reid, A. (2014), "Smart specialisation strategies in south Europe during crisis", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 448-471.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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